East Vail issue to dominate Vail council’s Aug. 2 meeting | VailDaily.com

East Vail issue to dominate Vail council’s Aug. 2 meeting

Vail Council will hear appeals of East Vail approval, debate ordinance stopping new permits on the property

The Vail Town Council on Aug. 2 will hear an appeal of a May 18 Design Review Board approval of the East Vail housing project formerly known as Booth Heights.
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A plan for workforce housing on an East Vail parcel dominates the Vail Town Council’s Aug. 2 agenda.

The council will first hear an appeal of the Vail Design Review Board’s May 18 approval of changes to an already-approved design for what’s now called the East Vail Workforce Housing project, the former Booth Heights project.

Through the years

Nov. 5, 1974: The 23.3-acre property just north of the Interstate 70 East Vail interchange was annexed into the town.

Oct. 3, 2017: The Vail Town Council formally rezoned the parcel to a combination of workforce housing and “natural area preservation.”

Oct. 14, 2019: The council, on a 4-3 vote, upheld a Vail Planning and Environmental Commission approval, also on a 4-3 vote, of a housing plan for the parcel.

May 18, 2022: The Vail Design Review Board approved, on a 4-1 vote, an amended plan for the parcel.

The Vail Community Development Department has determined that four town residents have standing in launching their appeals.

An appeal document filed by one of the appellants, Debbie King Ford, objects to the proposed buildings using cedar siding due to wildfire concerns.

King Ford’s appeal also objects to adding landscaping to Colorado Department of Transportation right of way between the project site and the frontage road.

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Other appellants objected to light, traffic, stormwater runoff and other possible impacts from the approved design.

In response, Vail Resorts and OZ Architecture, the firm now in charge of the project, submitted hundreds of pages of documents defending the project’s existing approvals and the May 18 changes approved by the design board.

According to a letter filed with the town by Nicole Bleriot, Vail Resorts senior director of real estate, wood siding was part of the original plan. Landscaping in the transportation department’s right of way was also part of the original approval.

The letter also states that requirements for lighting, parking spaces and other items were also part of previously approved plans.

While bighorn sheep remain a primary concern about building housing on a site in East Vail, a Tuesday Vail Town Council hearing isn’t likely to include wildlife issues.
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The letter also notes that an objection based on bighorn sheep habitat included in the appeal from Regina Grisafi and John Reimers isn’t valid in the context of the Aug. 2 meeting.

Bleriot’s letter notes that “issues related to wildlife mitigation” were outside the scope of the Design Review Board’s work.

No matter how the appeal turns out, the council is also scheduled to hear an ordinance that would suspend issuing any new permits for the East Vail property.

That ordinance is classified as an “emergency” measure so it can be passed with one reading instead of the customary two. It’s related to the council’s May 3 decision to pursue condemnation proceedings to acquire the property.

Colorado law requires any government seeking to acquire private property to pay “fair market value” for that land. That determination is generally made by either a district judge or a trial jury.

The ordinance language notes that Vail Resorts has applied for a soils testing permit as well as “other geologic activities” on the property. That testing would disturb the property, something wildlife experts have advised against.

The stay would also apply to building or other permits.

In a phone interview, King Ford said she believes the town is doing the right thing with the permit ordinance.

Given that the development approvals for the East Vail property stayed with the owner — Vail Resorts — after Triumph development in 2020 canceled a purchase contract for the project.

Since the plans have stayed with the land owner, King Ford said condemnation is the only way to preserve the property in its natural state.

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